Central bank governor Gideon Gono tends to tell his audience what he thinks they want to hear.
This was the view of United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan after Gono told him that he wanted to expand his advisory council to 29 to include representatives of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
The ZCTU, however, said it had no intention of joining forces with Gono or the government unless the government lifted prohibitive legislation regarding the holding of meetings, freedom of association, denial of bail, and press registration.
The labour movement had given the government the same reasons as conditions for it to rejoin the tripartite negotiations with government and business.
The embassy thought by bringing in labour, Gono was probably trying to create his own tripartite negotiating forum and increase his power and position within the government.
Viewing cable 04HARARE865, Tripartite National Forum Falters
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000865
STATE FOR AF/S
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
USDOL FOR ROBERT YOUNG
STATE FOR MARINDA HARPOLE
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Tripartite National Forum Falters
Ref: A) Harare 00831
¶1. (SBU) Summary: Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) refuses to restart Tripartite National Forum (TNF)
talks due to GOZ’s prior bad faith negotiation. ZCTU also
refuses to join Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono’s
advisory panel for the same reasons. End Summary
Tripartite National Forum
¶2. (SBU) TNF offers a venue for government, labor, and
employers to discuss the country’s economic situation as
equals. ZCTU General Secretary Wellington Chibebe claims
that GOZ’s unilateral 300% fuel price hike before TNF
discussions on the issue were concluded demonstrated bad
faith. GOZ then announced that ZCTU backed the fuel hike.
¶3. (SBU) ZCTU believes GOZ uses TNF talks to implement
already formulated policies. The Employers Confederation
of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), which represents employers at TNF
negotiations, understands ZCTU reluctance to re-join
negotiations but they have agreed to participate.
¶4. (SBU) ZCTU places conditions on re-starting talks,
including the lifting of prohibitive legislation
regarding the holding of meetings, freedom of
association, denial of bail, and press registration.
Gono’s Own Private TNF?
¶5. (SBU) Gono told Ambassador Sullivan he will expand
his advisory council to 29 members, including
representatives from ZCTU and others in civil society. He
claimed ZCTU agreed to join. However, the Solidarity
Center local representative states that ZCTU places the
same pre-conditions (See paragraph 4) on joining this
panel. ZCTU will issue a critique of Gono’s policies.
¶6. (SBU) Interestingly, in conversations with EMCOZ
and the International Labor Organization (ILO), no one
brought up Gono’s panel expansion despite being prompted
to do so. This suggests Gono has not advertised his plans
too widely. He may be trying to create his own TNF and
increase his power and position within GOZ.
¶7. (SBU) ZCTU’s principled decision against both
rejoining TNF discussion and sitting on Gono’s advisory
panel avoids a GOZ trap. As the fuel saga demonstrates,
GOZ negotiates only with an eye for its own gain.
¶8. (SBU) EMCOZ agreed to the TNF negotiations (but
made no mention of Gono’s panel at all) due to their
warmer relations with GOZ and fears that a refusal would
sour those relations. In addition, EMCOZ members gain
much more if they can influence GOZ thinking on issues
like price controls and removing the Z$824-US$1 official
exchange rate. ZCTU members benefit from such decisions
only through a trickle-down theory, if at all.
¶9. (SBU) Gono’s miscalculation of ZCTU’s willingness to
join his advisory panel may simply represent a mistaken
belief. However, it may also indicate that the Reserve
Bank Governor tends to tell his audience what he thinks
they want to hear.